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re: Cha Cha / Rumba Technique
Posted by Larry Richardson
8/18/1999  1:15:00 AM
Rock step, break steps, to lower the heel or not to lower the heel?
Several years ago I attended a week long instructors camp for Arthur Murray instructors. Sam Sodano taught a class on teaching what he called the component system in Rumba.
He began by refering to the 5 basic foot positions that any instructor or student should be familiar with. He then defined "Break" as a change of weight from one foot to another without changing the position of the feet. A "rock" step is simply another work for a break.
In most rhythm dances the most commonly accepted foot position for a foreward or back rock is an open 3rd foot position. The only difference between a foreward rock (break) and a back rock is which foot the weight is placed onto first (foreward rock = front foot then back, back rock = back foot then front)
In order to maintain a continuity of body motion, there normally should be a staigtening of the knee with a corresponding lowering of the heel. Normal poise and weight carriage in dancing should always have the "weight" felt over the balls of the feet. My experience is that this is one of the most misunderstood techniques in ballroom dancing. So many instructors seem to equate the lowering of the heel with also allowing with to the heel.....It ain't so. The heel can be lowered while still maintaining the weight over the ball of the foot. Yes...it is possible to straighten the knee without lowering the heel, but but that does not mean "dig" the ball of the foot into the floor and arrest the straigtening action of the knee and hence body movement.
re: Cha Cha / Rumba Technique
Posted by Jonathan Atkinson
8/9/1999  5:50:00 AM
In the International style, yes. It is considered good technique to fully transfer body weight over the foot on the back step of a back rock.

With the American style technique, there are two prevaiing schools of thought. Some people prefer a more complete transfer of weight to the whole foot. Others prefer to see the body weight held towards the forward foot so that the heel of the back foot does not receive weight.

Your choice will depend on the "look" you prefer. If you like a fuller, more "elastic" looking action similar to International Rumba and Cha Cha, you should opt for the full transfer of weight. If you like your Amercan style Rumba to be more compact and rhythmical, with a rock step similar to that of EC Swing or Jive, then you will probably like the version with the heel up.

I hope this helps.
Sincerely, Jonathan Atkinson

re: Cha Cha / Rumba Technique
Posted by tangodancer
8/14/1999  12:25:00 PM
I have to admit that I had originally presumed that the original posting was asking about something akin to back cucarachas or cuban rocks. I've never come across a jive-like rock step in cha cha or rumba.

On Jive, the book says "The first step is taken back and the leg straightened but not locked as the heel is lowered. The knee of the leg without weight is slightly flexed. On the second step the weight is transferred onto the forward foot in place and the leg straightened but not locked." The footwork is B flat B flat which would suggest that the heel is lowered. However, I agree with Jonathan's earlier post - it is lowered but with weight forward.

re: Cha Cha / Rumba Technique
Posted by Jonathan Atkinson
8/14/1999  5:12:00 PM

Sounds like you're on the right track to me. Did you happen to check out Mark & Viola's Jive variation on Ballroomdancers.com a few weeks back? That's a very good example of rock steps in Jive.

Terminology-wise, it's my personal observation that a "rock step" tends to describe a transfer of weight from one foot to the other and back, while a "break" describes an actual stop and/or change of directional movement.

To put it in another way, a back break would imply that you are actually moving backwards and then forward, as in Cha Cha, such that you would transfer all of your weight fully over the whole foot before moving away. By definition, a back rock does not imply direction of movement, but only positions of the feet. So your your body does not have to move backwards when your weight shifts to the back foot.

According to this definition, a break would be a type of rock step, but not vice-versa.

At least, that's my understanding.


re: Cha Cha / Rumba Technique
Posted by Matyas
8/16/1999  11:36:00 PM
Thanks for the Jive step description.


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